Replacing an employee can conservatively cost 50% of their annual salary (Fluckiger & Ruddy, 2022) – so it’s no wonder there’s an employee retention crisis in the marketing agency world. In this competitive industry, retaining talent long-term can be hard – but digital advertising agency Where U? has found a few surefire ways to make employees want to stay.
The elephant in the room:
First, there is the issue of salary. It’s obvious, but it bears repeating – all the office kombucha fridges in the world won’t make up for a bad salary. While most people don’t expect the salary of a CEO, research has shown that increasing pay by just one dollar per hour results in a 2.8% increase in employee retention – and that every $1 per hour loss in pay results in a 28% increase in turnover (Emanuel & Harrington, 2020). Like it or not, competitive salary remains a key factor in employee retention.
Keep them inspired:
Marketing is a creative industry, filled with creative people. The fast-paced nature of agency life might seem like more than enough to keep employees engaged with their work – but if they’re never flexing their creative muscles or experimenting with new ideas, high volume and fast paced work is just a one way track to burnout.
The key here is to give employees the time and resources they need to try out new ideas, take on new challenges, and expand their roles in the business. Having noted this first-hand, owner and founder of Where U? Brandon Willington tells every new hire that their job won’t look the same in six months, because “doing the same thing every day will make this job get boring fast”. Digital marketing is a constantly changing industry, so it’s beneficial for employers to give their staff the tools to stay up to date and engaged.
Work life balance:
There are plenty of young guns filled with passion in the marketing industry, but passion can only get you so far – it’s also important to have time to recharge. Research has shown that companies with strong work-life balance policies see a 25% boost in employee retention (Zuckerman, 2020). If employees feel like their employer values their life outside of work, they’re more likely to value their employer – and they’ll be more motivated to give it their all when they’re at work. This doesn’t just have to mean fewer hours worked – options such as working from home and flexible working hours allow employees more freedom to work in a way that best matches their needs. With this in mind, Where U? has implemented a work-from-home Wednesday strategy to break up the week, and strike a balance between office culture and personal time.
Keeping an eye out for burnout:
Finally, employers need a measurable way to track employee stress – and have actionable steps to take when it’s getting too high. Where U? uses a weekly ‘TMI’ survey that measures Team Member Irritability. Employees their stress levels on a scale of 1-10, and then have an open text box asking if they need help with anything. This gives a semi-private way for employees to communicate that they need help – or, if their stress levels are too high, they can be sent home to recharge for the day.
Ultimately employee retention comes down to countless factors – some of which will be out of your control as an employer. But building policies to reduce employee burnout in an industry that can be incredibly stressful is step one to creating a workplace where employees want to stay.